According to my theatre friend, there is a thing one can experience at the theatre known as a theatregasm which is a taken from the derivative of the original word/act (I don’t really need to explain this further do I?). In hindsight I think I may have experienced said theatregasm when I watched Phantom of the Opera and War Horse and I most definitely experienced one whilst watching Cats at the Regent Theatre.
Cats, composed by musical extraordinaire Andrew Lloyd Webber and is based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” which was written by T.S Eliot. It tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night known as “the Jellicle Ball” where Old Deuteronomy, the tribes wise and benevolent leader will make the choice of which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new life.
Directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the original show opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982 and has since spun over three decades, been made into a film, and now its on the road in the UK and returns to Stoke as part of its 2016 UK tour.
What is immediately stunning about Cats, aside from the music, the story and the choreography is the incredible set design and the overwhelming intricacy and detail of the costume of each cat.
There are over 25 cats in total, each with different personalities and different markings which requires lots of lycra, wigs galore and a lot of make up – sounds like my kind of show.
The make up of each “cat” is actually applied by the individual member of the cast – and this make up is no mean feat. For example, make up application to transform the actors into the individual cats can begin at 4:30 in time for a 7:30 show. That’s 3 hours of a steady hand and meticulous make up application. As each cat has individual markings some members of the cast may even be understudies to other throughout the tour so may have to learn the makeup of 3 or 4 other characters.
I’ve always said for me that watching and experiencing theatre its not about the technical details, at least not for me. There are much keener theatre goers and better writers than I to give you that background. What I do know is how a show makes me feel when I’ve watched it and to me that overshadows stage directions (don’t throw things at me if you’re a serious thesp reading this)
There’s a moment towards the end of the show where Grizabella (also know as Glamour Cat) sings the song “Memory” which is by far a stand out moment of the show. There may have been a glistening of a tear duct. and dabbing at a stray tear.
That was my theatregasm right there.
With Cats amassing a dedicated following of fans the world over, the show which fuses an enchanting blend of music, dance and verse so beautifully truly does need to be seen to be believed.
Cats will run at the Regent Theatre until 10th September, tickets are available online.